I think you got the latest episode of the HBO show Entourage in Blighty, and right now, I feel like the audience in the Cannes showing of Medellin. I've got an Xbox (4) spot, which has people with boxes for heads going to a therapist who makes the boxes explode to reveal a human face. It finishes with the endline: "Just be yourself (I think)." There's also a Domino's (6) spot with three guys on a sofa watching TV when the doorbell rings, and the two gawky little ones race each other to the door to get the pizza, only to be elbowed out of the way by the big one at the last minute; a spot for 1001 Trouble Shooter Ultra carpet cleaner (2), which has a genie and his monkey on a magic floating carpet - the monkey spills some wine, so the genie conjures up some 1001 carpet cleaner and gets rid of the stain; a Smirnoff (5) billboard with the visual of a splash of water in extreme close-up resembling a cocktail glass with a swizzle stick in it, with the endline: "Extraordinary purity in every drop"; and an adshell for P&O (1) with the visual of a knot below the headline: "Weddings at sea." I mean, er, zzzzzzzz?!
Just when I think I have the measure of you bloodthirsty vixens at Campaign, you outdo yourselves. What do you expect by sending such tosh to a person of my minutely detailed cantankerous temperament and expecting anything other than me unholstering the trusty sawn-off that I keep with me at all times in a secret inside pocket?
I remember a junior art director once bringing some work to Steve Dunn and asking for some direction. The direction Dunny gave her was: "Go out of the door, turn left, then turn right up the corridor, then left again into your office and try to do something half-decent for a change."
Similarly, the only constructive thing I can think to say about the extraordinarily lacklustre work above is do it all again.
On the Domino's brief, who was it that decided young men still watch enough TV to make a TV spot viable? If the "insight" (yuck, I hate that word!) is all about the moment you're sitting on the sofa when the doorbell rings and your heart leaps because there's some steaming-hot cheese-laden foodstuffs there, so you rush for the door, why not make it an internet race with all kinds of obstacles? But if you're using interruption instead of engagement, surely you don't need me to tell you that the sight of yet another three young men on a sofa will instantly deaden every viewer's brain receptors, rendering them non-operational?
Surely you don't need me to tell you that the visual of a glass and a swizzle stick is beyond dull to absolutely everybody but a brand manager who is immersed in the drinks industry to such a degree that they no longer recognise there is a world outside?
Surely you also don't need me to compare "headboxes" or whatever the ad is called with "cradle to grave" and "mosquitoes" or "people mountain"?
Enough of this. I'm going to say something libellous in a minute.
So thank you O2 (3). The O2 "stare out" is sweet. You go on the site and get the chance to stare out a trio of English rugby stars via your webcam. I tried it. It's fun. It taps into the psyche of the dyed-in-the-wool rugby fan, who must be getting close to fever pitch by now, and looking to drink in every possible facet or titbit about the World Cup. This lovely idea allows him (or her) to come face to face and almost touch the testosterone-laden spirit of the clashes. It says that O2 understands, profoundly understands, what rugby is, and what it means to people. More importantly, it says that O2 is a brand that understands, cares and caters for the innermost feelings and desires of people in general. Does Rooney still do this work? He's damn good, that lad.
RUGBY PLAYER - Will Greenwood, centre, Harlequins
I've loved ads for a long time. I didn't have any choice. My best mate, Ben Fennell, is the managing director of Bartle Bogle Hegarty, and he has been there for ever. So, for the past ten years, he has used me as a sounding board on his agency's latest work. I get asked for the "punter's view" on stand-out, relevance, memorability and branding. Ben knows a Lancastrian is always confident that he knows what he likes and he likes what he knows. We may not know why something pushes our buttons, but it just does.
So, in my view, a good ad needs to be funny, beautiful, clever, or a combination of all three. So, here goes ...
Smirnoff (5). Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. I want to follow every drop as it splashes off. Where are the ripples going? How high was the lime dropped from? The level of detail in the photography is sensational. As Clive Woodward preached to us for so long: "Greatness is achieved through the discipline of attending to detail."
And then it hit me (we rugby men can be a bit slow after 15 years of having your head mangled), the shapes of the splashes! The cocktail glass, the tumbler, so subtle, so perfect. In this world of eco-friendly and organic chaos, the desire to focus on purity is wonderfully clever. I don't drink vodka, but if I did, it would be Smirnoff.
P&O (1). There may be "a world out there", but I won't be going by boat. I just don't get it. Irrespective of my inherent apathy towards cruises, how many people are about to go on a cruise to get married? The demographics of cruisers are surely your grandparents - aren't they married already? The knot in the shape of a love heart - too cheesy. Where's my boat? My sun-kissed beaches? My luxury cabin? Start with those, and I might just prefer taking a cruise to toenail removal ... but only just.
O2 (3). Any ad that stars two of my Rugby World Cup-winning team mates is going to struggle to get a bad review. I played in the midfield with Mike Tindall for many years, and still have no idea how he is now 11th in line to the throne. The ad clearly reconfirms O2's close relationship with rugby as we find ourselves in the middle of another World Cup. I like the idea of having to stare these guys down, all that manly testosterone, the competitive edge so prevalent in international sport that everyone wants to be part of. Think rugby, think O2. The connection is almost irreversible. Not sure how often I would revisit the site, but I was definitely keen to try.
Xbox (4). Absolutely fascinating. The soundtrack is perfect and the cinematography is quite astounding. The whole thing grabs me by the throat, sits me down, and shouts: "Watch me!" However, there is one drawback. I watched it 20 times and I still don't completely get the message, the flipside being I can't get Xbox out of my head. What is an Xbox?I have no idea. Will I ever forget it? No chance.
1001 Trouble Shooter Ultra carpet cleaner (2). Hated it. Poor old monkey. A fat bloke watching an action flick eating crisps would never drink red wine. Lager, cider, or a combination of the two, yes, but red wine? Never. A man that uncool would also certainly not have a pair of retro-style Converse trainers in his room. This is just a poor man's "Al and Monkey" ad.
Domino's (6). I laughed out loud with the memories of that man. You don't have to be beautiful or clever when you're that funny. Henry Tuilagi, a giant Samoan, who has bigger brothers, is perfectly cast alongside the two "Mr Muscle" impersonators. Nice opening jousting, perfect step and acceleration for the door, then blindsided and knocked into next week by a man who terrorises the international field. Couldn't stop watching the point of impact. It reminded me why I decided to retire. Very funny. Sports fans will love it.
As much as I love watching and talking about ads, I'm not averse to flagrantly advertising myself, so I'll finish with this. It's my testimonial year, and as part of that, Alastair Campbell will be speaking at the London Imax on 8 November about "The Business of Media" (for more information, log on to www.fireballmanagement.com). Go and see it.
Project: Weddings at sea
Client: P&O Cruises
Brief: Raise awareness by communicating the romance and glamour of a P&O
Agency: Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy
Writer: Gavin Torrance
Art director: Danny Hunt
Photographer: Alexander Kent
2. 1001 TROUBLE SHOOTER ULTRA
Project: Magic carpet
Client: Simon Daw, marketing director, WD40
Brief: Show the stain-removing power of 1001 Trouble Shooter carpet
Writer: Matt Baker
Art director: Terry O'Neill
Director: Ben Tonge
Production company: Chief
Exposure: National TV
Project: Stare out
Client: James Young, advertising manager, O2
Brief: Create a viral for the Rugby World Cup that demonstrates
England's "never surrender" approach
Agency: Archibald Ingall Stretton
Writers: Kristian Foy, Geoff Gower
Art director: Mark Hanson
Director: Patricia Murphy
Production company: Patricia Murphy Films
Client: Monique Bernds, head of channel marketing, Xbox
Brief: Demonstrate the benefits of the new Xbox Live Vision camera
Writer/art director: James Hilton
Director: Simon Cracknell, Another Film Company
Production company: Cattleprods
Exposure: Xbox point-of-sale kiosks, online
Client: Kirsty Hope, brand manager, Smirnoff
Brief: Reinforce consumers' quality perceptions of Smirnoff
Writers/art directors: Philip Meyler, Darren Keff
Client: Robin Auld, UK sales and marketing director, Domino's
Brief: Establish the new Domino's Scrummy Pizza as the perfect meal for
the rugby fan
Agency: Team Saatchi
Writer: Daniel Headey
Art director: Gary Howe
Director: BIll Scarlet
Production company: Hanrahan
Exposure: National TV